BlackBerry Z10 (siide, angled 001)

In a move similar to BlackBerry’s disastrous PlayBook tablet, carriers and resellers started slashing the price of the Z10 smartphone, launched only months ago. Carriers AT&T and Verizon cut the all-touch handset to $99 from $199. Best Buy and Amazon now sell the device for $49.

Such deep discounts are usually a tell-tale sign of lackluster response (to put it mildly). The Z10 hit US shores on March 22 with a tall order of turning the BlackBerry around and saving the once mighty Canadian vendor from oblivion…

While discounts are commonly used to sell older devices ahead of a new product launch, the move by carriers and retailers “suggest the phone isn’t selling well,” reports the Wall Street Journal.

Following last week’s shareholders meeting, speculation swirled that BlackBerry could be sold for scraps, prompting the start of a death watch.

In a statement, BlackBerry defended the price cuts, calling it “the right time to adjust the price” as it took the wraps off its new Q10 handset, which offers users a real keyboard.

The spokesman by email also told the Journal that the lower prices were “just one element of our marketing strategy” in what he termed “a very competitive landscape.”

CEO Thorsten Heins has described the U.S. smartphone market as “ferocious.”

Indeed, the market for smartphones nowadays seems to mostly revolve around the iOS-Android duopoly, with Microsoft fighting to become a viable #3 entrant.